They’re called Mrs. Pageants. And they look like they’re going to be the perfect combo of women-of-a-certain-age shellacking themselves and each other into dresses and hairpieces, meaty husbands supporting (threatening?) them in the background, poor-man’s Vegas costumes, and a healthy sprinkling of good ole fashioned backstabbing. Game of Crowns is a hot mess, missus style.
We meet Vanassa Sebastian first, the alpha female of the group, a breast cancer survivor and Native American from the Passamaquoddy tribe. Vanassa is no pageant virgin, having competed and placed in a former Mrs. America pageant, and formerly won Mrs. Connecticut. Vanassa’s husband, Brian, co-owns Foxwood Resort & Casino (Where my uncle goes to play the dollar slots on the regular. My aunt does not approve. Foxwoods is spoken of in hushed tones in our family circle.).
Anyhoooo…Vanassa is described as looking like a “hoochie mama” by a castmate, but I think she looks sort of like what happens to my daughter’s play dough when we leave it out on the table overnight without the cap on. She is a product of Crest White Strips and lot of facial freezing, and admits that she’s somewhat of a pageant addict, claiming her husband could have bought a small house with the money she’s spent on pageants thus far. A small house where he can live by himself in peace, no doubt. Vanassa hangs her hat on the Native American ancestry hook frequently, and says so as the cameras show her trying on an enormous white feathered headdress in someone’s closet. She’s also an RN anesthetist – full scrubs, Louboutins and all! Good for her. Being a breast cancer survivor drives her to raise awareness and funding for a cure. It also drives her to take umbrage with others commenting on her boobs looking bad. She also hears racial slurs everywhere. I foresee a lot of “Did you call me (fill in imaginary Native American slur here)!?!?!” coming. She’s here to win and maintains that everyone else is too because, “Nobody wants to be backstage eating the loser buffet” at the end of a pageant. I hear you, Vanassa.
Next we meet Shelley Carbone, 2011 winner of the Mrs. America crown, and the prettiest, most natural beauty of the group by a long shot. Shelley is married with four kids, and her role as a wife and mother is what she is most proud of. She seems reluctant to get back on the stage after a two-year hiatus, but I sense a little “I’m here to win, bitches!” cray-cray underneath her soft spoken demeanor. Plus, I love when her smooth, nearly accent-free dialect is suddenly peppered with a, “Not for nothin’, but” statement. Yes, you belong here, Shelley. Welcome! Shelley is a tricky pile of messy paradoxes: she doesn’t want to be the center of attention, but loves having all eyes on her. She exudes more class than the rest of the ladies, yet brushes off her shoulder like Jay-Z with a wicked “I’ll get you, my pretty” smirk at the end of her interview. She’s got a secret, I can just feeeeeel it. She is my new Camille Grammer, circa RHOBH, Season 1.
Cut to Leha Guilmette, wife of 7 years to her cop hubby and mother of two. Leha lost 70 pounds (you go, Leha!) and formerly won Mrs. Rhode Island. Vanassa talks smack about Leha being a butterface to the other women behind Leha’s back and I wonder how they maintain this level of snarkery about “not finding Leha beautiful” in the face when a few of them – Shelley excluded – resemble science experiments more than beauty queens. They do use hilarious terms like “Forty Footer,” explaining that butterfaces like Leha only look good from forty feet away. If Leha is a Forty Footer, then I’d argue that a few of the other women are Forty Meters. But whatever. Forty Footer is my new favorite phrase. Smack talkers of Leha beware, though, as the preview reveals her husband to be fiercely protective of his wife, calling out the other women as “twats,” (Bleep!) as they chuckle in the audience during one of Leha’s prancing circles onstage. The drama between Leha’s cop hubby and one castmate in particular promises to escalate to the level of restraining orders, tears, and backstage fights. Can’t wait.
Speaking of the restraining –ordered castmate in question, now introducing she-who-wears-pink-and-blue-extensions: Lynne Diamante! Lynne, a self-proclaimed pageant “lifer,” is Mrs. Rhode Island 2010, married to hubby, Giulio, and mother to daughter, Giulia. I’ll just leave you with that for a moment. Alright, moving on. Lynne chuckles over being called a “cross between Heather Locklear and a Smurf” by a random dude in the grocery store while the cameras cut to possibly the most unintentionally hilarious pregnancy painting/photo of Lynne and Giulio, who, and I must apologize, looks like maybe he didn’t get enough – um – vitamins prenatally. OMG. But really, that image of them is almost Monty Python-esque. It is truly, truly awesome. Lynne and Giulio’s flare for the dramatic also extend to their yearly vow renewals, of which there have been 14 – and are similarly ridiculously themed (trolls were mentioned by one castmate, I swear). Preview clips reveal that a lot of drama surrounds, and possibly starts with Lynne. Stay tuned for the pseudo-death threats that begin to circle her pink and blue head!
Next up is the jock of the group and newbie to the beauty pageant world, Lori-Ann Marchese. Fitness buff, new Mrs. Connecticut & multiple fitness pageant winner, Lori-Ann is married with no kids. She’s not ready to reproduce because she says, “I’m kinda in my hawt mowment right now.” Lori-Ann is the Tonya Harding of the group, but hopefully sans billy club & violent tendencies. She’s tough, crude, and all about telling everyone who doesn’t like her to “go F*** themselves!” just like (and I kid you not) her mother has specifically raised her to say. I sort of love Lori-Ann because she’s spunky despite all of the other women openly pitying her, calling her unpolished, and maintaining that she will basically be destroyed by competition. Lori-Ann runs her own fitness studio with her husband and I get the feeling that whether she wins or loses Mrs. America, she will have a normal life trajectory that doesn’t include weirdly-themed vow renewals and “cuchinis” (look it up because I just can’t even explain it right now – I just can’t). Lori-Ann also has one of the best lines of the entire preview special, summing up the Mrs. America Pageant in three words: “uptight, conservative, and diaper.” I think these three words could also triage the competitors into their respective lanes, but hey.
Rounding out the group is newbie Mrs. America competitor and current Mrs. Rhode Island crown holder, Susanna Paliotta. (Is it just me, or is nearly everyone a former or current Mrs. Rhode Island here!? It’s the smallest state in the Union, yo.) Susanna is stage mom to youngest daughter, Bella, who has won like a million kiddie pageants. Now, Susanna says, it’s HER turn. (Cue the music from Stephen King’s Carrie riiiiiiight here.) “I bring a little spice, a little Italian flavor” to the competition, says Susanna, as if the rest of the ladies were WASPS from Kennebunkport. Er, hmm. Okay then. She also says swear words in her household include the usual trove of F-bombs, D-heads, and the word, “Vanassa.” Sounds like a nemesis battle is on the docket for us this season. Vanassa claims Susanna “bought” her current Mrs. Rhode Island title. This is rich coming from the woman who brags about snapping her fingers at downtrodden Foxwoods’ employees to come give her private massages/pedicures/facial-plasty in her hotel room, gratis. Lots of previewed bickering between Vanassa and Susanna promises to culminate in one disturbing airport scene that reveals both ladies wearing the exact same hideous paisley/strapless/trouser-jumper ensemble’ that sends Vanassa over the edge. Susanna seems like one to watch, especially because it appears as if she can move almost all of the muscles in her face on her very own. Awwww. Good girl.
Stay tuned for more crown-grabbing and cuchini-wearing behavior tonight on the first Episode of Game of Crowns. Watch for the premiere recap to come tomorrow!
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Recap Author: Erin M.
Photo Credit: Bravo